6 Ways to Maximize Your Weekend
When I was in residency, I worked every third weekend without a compensated day off. This meant 12 days straight of 10-12 hour workdays every third week. When you work weekends, the ones that you don't are essential to mental survival. And now that I’m in a position without working weekends, I’m still not used to the idea of truly being able to turn my brain off work at my own discretion.
Here are 6 things I learned to keep in mind as I headed into a free weekend and prepared for the week ahead.
1. Go to bed and wake up at normal times. Give yourself some liberty of course, but I find that when I succumb to the temptation of staying up late binge-watching Netflix and YouTube, I regret it the next morning. There are two possibilities: I wake up at early anyway because my body is used to it from the work week and am tired all day, or I wake up too late and lose half the day feeling groggy from oversleeping. Do yourself a favor and sleep at a normal time, but at least wake up while the sun is out.
2. When you wake up, get up. There's a lot of temptation to wake up and noodle around. Trust me, I've woken up and stayed in bed for hours and the next thing I know it's past noon and I'm starving because I haven't had breakfast and now I have a headache from caffeine withdrawal. Don't stray too far away from your usual morning routine and in fact supplement it with home-cooked breakfast and coffee with the TV on. The important thing is to get out of bed and don't go back for a while.
3. Prioritize. While you have your morning coffee and catch on the TV shows you missed during the week, write down the list of things you want to do over the weekend, and the things you HAVE to do (not work-related). It sucks to get back to Monday not having done your groceries or bought more toilet paper when you had two free days to do it.
4. Schedule a microadventure. This may require some pre-planning, or you could be totally spontaneous. Since I’ve moved to New York City, I subscribed to The Skint which is a daily subscription of low-cost and free activities going on in any of the 5 boroughs. I like to use it to get myself out of the house if there’s something I’m interested in. I find microadventures a great mindfulness activity and distraction from checking my email.
5. Do your self-care activities. This can be whatever you want. The important thing is to do it. If you need some ideas, you can check out my Sunday Self-Care routine.
6. Unplug. Don't check your email for at least one of the days. I usually pick Saturday so that Sunday evening I can prepare for the week ahead. Practice mindfulness by minimizing your time on the devices and doing things like read a book, play board games, try a new restaurant, take a walk.
I hope these ideas help you maximize the free time you have on a weekend. It’s only 2 days for me, but there is so much I can do that has a huge impact on my resilience and mental health.